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How to work with school on DS's poor writing

(3 Posts)
LatinForTelly Tue 25-Nov-14 12:52:56

Hi folks, I wonder if any of you could help me with this, please?

DS, aged 7, has poor fine motor skills as part of a wider medical condition.

He can write, and quite neatly, but very slowly, and it takes huge effort and tires him greatly. We are in Scotland, so he is in p3.

He is very intelligent, so in assessment, his 'visual perception' skills compensate for his poor motor coordination skills, and overall, in the class, I would imagine his is not the poorest written work.

My feeling (and his OT's) is that with this mismatch of abilities, he is not able to reach his potential, and this will likely get worse as he gets older and is required to do longer pieces of written work.

We all had a review with the school last week, as part of the staged intervention process. I felt that throughout, the head's attitude had been a bit dismissive.

For example, DS had told her he didn't like science because it was hard. The head said ' so he obviously doesn't like anything he perceives as hard' but when I questioned DS after, he said he hadn't liked that subject because there was lots of colouring in and he often didn't finish sad. (He is very good at retention of facts etc.)

One approach suggested by OT and me was that DS learned to type, but head said 'well personally I find typing quite hard' (The OT and I both challenged this, but not forcefully.)

She also suggested getting him onto a lower intervention level (the one for short-term problems). When I disagreed, she readily agreed he could stay on his current level, but also said 'lots of parents want their children down the levels, in fact it makes no difference whether they're on staged intervention or not, we do our best for every child'. confused

I felt that we came out of the meeting without any firm plan, just a vague commitment to maybe get him to do a bit of typing now and again in school time. He's also been discharged by the OT as she feels everything is in place now to help him.

(School have been supportive to date; he has special chair, they do exercises with him before writing, and he has been on their motor skills improvement programme about 5 times. We also do exercises at home.)

Sorry for the essay but my questions are these:

Should I address directly my perception of the head's attitude, or let it go? (I like her generally; she is a good headteacher.)

How should I push for a more concrete plan of what will happen differently to get him to type (if that is right way forward).

Does being on staged intervention really make no difference, or does it make the school more accountable for that child's educational needs?

Many thanks if you've got this far.

Runningtokeepstill Tue 25-Nov-14 15:40:11

If your son gets on well with typing I would try to push for that as regular activity as he'll be able to produce more "written" work and thus work to his abilities rather than get exhausted by the sheer effort of handwriting. I have a hypermobile ds and hadn't realised his poor handwriting was related to this until it was pointed out by an OT at Gt Ormond St Hospital when ds was 10. As my ds can type without getting pain/fatigue then this is good for extended tasks and now, at 15, his handwriting is usually legible, although not good, in shorter tasks.

Schools vary so much that it is possible to have a detailed intervention plan that is never met at one school while another school is happy to provide more support without going down a special needs assessment route. If your ds's school is generally good and supportive and up to now you've been impressed with the head then I'd try to keep everything on a "friendly, working together as a team" basis. I know of someone with an AS dc, awaiting diagnosis at that time, who took an Alphasmart (do these still exist?) into school for his 7 year old to use as the school did not have access to individual laptops. This is going back a while, but it meant his dc got what he needed and the school didn't have to do anything extra.

However, as you have a medical diagnosis for your ds and there has been OT involvement, I'd probably want to see if the OT is prepared to make a much stronger recommendation. A report saying ds needs to type for extended tasks for example. Perhaps some leeway with the colouring in? I know she's discharged him but if this has just happened it would be like a finishing off thing before he is off her books.

Like you, I wouldn't be happy with the suggestion of downgrading intervention levels to one based on short term needs. It's hard to be sure from the details you've given but I would assume that many of his issues will be ongoing. For example handwriting might improve and be more "acceptable" but the effort and fatigue may still continue.

LatinForTelly Tue 25-Nov-14 23:44:17

Thanks for your reply, Running. It's interesting and reassuring to hear that your DS is successfully typing for longer tasks. Did he learn to touch-type or is he just generally familiar with the keyboard?

My DS had hypermobility when he was little although parents of other children with his condition haven't reported concerns with handwriting (or maybe I just wasn't tuned in to them, as my DS wasn't at that stage yet).

I agree, I was quite firm on maintaining the intervention level and, to be fair, the head didn't push me once I'd stated this but I thought implied I was making a fuss with her 'some parents...' comment. Perhaps I'm being oversensitive though.

It's hard to be specific on his ongoing needs without completely outing myself (as if the comments above haven't!) but his needs (feeding, possible future meds) are now mainly confined to stuff that can be done outside school time, unless he becomes ill, so it's a weird one. To someone just meeting him, he looks like an 'average' little boy, so in some respects his main challenges are invisible at school. But yes, the fatigue and effort wrt handwriting will continue.

I suppose I resent any implication that if he 'tried a bit harder' there wouldn't be a problem with his writing, because I know what he's dealt with, and what he's overcome, so it seems very unfair to him.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

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